There seems to be little dispute that the spring rain we all crave is not going to eventuate, and that summer is going to be more severe than usual. ( Check this article in The Age for a dire read on the bush fire season ahead ). Much of what I’ve read, points to a strong chance that we will go into an El Nino cycle this summer, and that means that you should be adjusting your fishing trip plans for the coming season.
I know that all of the guides who work here are doing this right now.
We’ve had not much rain, and once again the short-sightedness of government, means that one of our main water storages, Lake Eildon, will start the irrigation season at a much lower level than it probably should. A lot of water has been released to the river for no tangible gain these past few months, with the result being that we will see a great season of fishing on the Goulburn this year, but what happens next season, will be wholly dependent on next year’s rain.
There is no buffer for future years when the lake when is as low as 60%.
Setting the politics of water management aside, what this means for us on the Goulburn is yet to be determined. It will most definitely mean slightly warmer water temperatures in late spring/summer, which is a good thing for the hatches and the fishing. 10-11c is the standard for the Goulburn at these times of year when the lake is higher. This year we could see 14-17c water temps. Higher than usual, but smack dab in the middle of the perfect range for trout feeding.
So far, so good.
Water releases into the river are an entirely different proposition, and it is here that I will have to bite my tongue (off) to avoid encroaching on the controversial side of the Goulburn River/Lake Eildon water management debate. While we are faced with several possible scenarios, the one most likely to play out is that the demand for irrigation will be earlier and larger than usual this spring. This could see higher river levels from late September onward.
Something that most of us would prefer to avoid.
For the fly fisher, the higher water temps should mean better hatches sooner in the season on the Goulburn. Typically we see a few rising fish in the opening days of the season, with the hatches getting sporadically better and better until they really kick in around October 1. Through October the caddis and mayfly hatches just get stronger, and sometime in the second to third week of the month, the ants show up in big numbers, as well as a whole lot of other bugs.
In other words. Things are flying by mid-October.
This year, we could see some drastic changes to this timeline. Think 1-2 weeks sooner on the aquatic insects, and 2-3 weeks on the terrestrials, if we get any real bursts of early warmth.
Either way, the Goulburn will be excellent all season long. If we don’t get rain next winter/spring, then the report written 12 months from now will be very different to this one. But for now, we can all breathe a collective sigh of relief, because the Goulburn looks great. Our view is to enjoy it while it’s good, and keep referring back to our reports for more detail and the latest information. We have seven guides in the field this season, and without the shop/property to maintain, we will be on the river even more than we usually are.
Hence, once again, we will be the only genuine source of quality information from the area.
Getting back to the report, it’s the smaller rivers that will see the most dramatic changes to previous years. These smaller, naturally flowing (i.e. unregulated) streams will undoubtedly fish much sooner than they usually do. When we go into a dry spring, as we seem to be doing, these rivers fish very early on. Back in season 2008-2009, the season of the devastating Black Saturday bushfires, we had rising fish in the Rubicon on opening day!
Of course by the time the Australian Open started in January, the river was at 24 degrees and the fishing was over.
With this year looking to be on a similar trajectory to those drought years, now is the time to begin planning your trips to the high country, and possibly bringing forward any post-Christmas trips to mid-late spring when the fishing will be at its best.
You can rest assured that the Goulburn will fish well right through the season, as historically, 60% in the lake means great water temps and plenty of water to get through the irrigation season. So the Goulburn option is always there, and of course we will boats available to fish it every day should you want to drift it. But the smaller rivers, especially those in certain catchments, should already be fishing well by next month. And October/November could be epic.
For those looking to do something different, please check out our Guide’s Road Trip pages. We are running three and six day trips into these areas, with groups of 4-10 people. We will have a guide per pair, and we will have drift boats and 4WD’s so that we can fish anywhere we choose. We will simply visit the best area at the given time of the trip. This is a new concept that we have been kicking about for a number of years, and after a recent trial run, we are now offering it as a standard service, to be run at set/listed times, and on also demand if you have a pair or more of anglers.
I won’t go on and on about them. If you are interested in learning more, simply click the link to the page on our website.
So this season will be very different to last year. We had more water in Lake Eildon 12 months ago, plus we also had more general rainfall over the Great Divide, meaning that catchments were soaked and further rain fell through the spring. We also had a huge rainfall event in December that saw much of the state underwater for several weeks. This was a boon for the smaller rivers and the Goulburn alike; with no irrigation water needed for nearly three weeks as a result of the summer deluge.
This year looks to be very different. And I’m only able to hope that by tempting fate and stating this in written form, maybe I can tempt Mother Nature into proving me wrong and embarrassing me for being so bold as to make such a call.
I double dare you MN.
But all joking aside, it looks like we are headed for a drier and warmer than average spring, and quite possibly an El Nino summer. Our advice is simply to bring your trips forward and plan for more visits early in the season. You might just hit these smaller rivers at the time when they first start fishing, and the fishing is outstanding.
The Goulburn will fish well right through, so you can rely on it during the JAN-MAR period when all of the smaller rivers fall over. With a mix of Goulburn and smaller rivers between now and Christmas. Also worth noting is that the South Island usually has terrific summer fishing and enough rainfall when we experience El Nino events on the east coast of Australia. We do have some spots left on our NZ trips for those considering coming across at the height of the summer fishing season in Southland.
For us the approaching season looks like this:
SEPT: Goulburn + some small rivers depending on water levels and temps.
OCT-DEC: Goulburn and smaller rivers and trips to the high country
JAN-MAR: Goulburn and New Zealand South Island. Smaller rivers too low and hot.
APR-MAY: Goulburn and smaller rivers and trips to the high country
More to come in the coming week as we get closer to the season opening. Check out our Facebook page for our ‘photo countdown’ to the new season. Also, if you are a client, either past or present, please contact us for information on how you can gain access to the Member’s Area of our website where the fishing reports, articles and trip reports are written up.
All the best people and see you back out on the river soon.
Goulburn Valley Fly Fishing Centre
Landline 03 5773 2513 Mobile 0418 995 611